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Santa Cruz County Gun Retailers Report Sales Soar After Obama Address

January 11, 2016

SCOTTS VALLEY >> President Barack Obama had hardly closed his emotional Tuesday address outlining executive actions on gun control before Santa Cruz Armory was bustling.

“Literally five minutes after he finished talking, my store was packed,” said Nolan Sands, general manager of the Scotts Valley firearms retailer. “The direct relation as to when he talks and us getting busy is impeccable.”

Tuesday’s surge comes after what Santa Cruz County gun dealers unanimously agree have been weeks of exceptional sales, mirroring a national uptick after the Dec. 2 San Bernardino attack.

In December, the FBI processed more than 3.3 million firearm sales background checks compared to about 2.3 million from December 2014. That differential, more a million with the exact numbers, is unprecedented in data going back to 1998. Exact numbers for Santa Cruz County gun sales were not immediately available, but Sands characterized his sales as having doubled since the San Bernardino attack.

Markley’s Indoor Range & Gun similarly has seen a “big uptick” in the past month, said Paul Cunningham, a salesperson at the storefront and shooting range outside Watsonville. But Cunningham said it has been policy, not safety, that has driven the customers he has seen.

“Obama is our No. 1 gun salesman,” Cunningham said. “He’s been the salesman of the year for the last eight years.”

Lee Ewing, owner of Pacific Military Arms and Service, an appointment-based gun retailer in Scotts Valley, said he has seen his sales go up “big time” in the same period.

“The first-time folks coming in and saying ‘I think I need to get a gun now.’ The next line out of their mouth is ‘because the government is not going to allow me to buy this later,’” Ewing said. “A huge percentage of it is driven by politicians.”

Torin Wagner, owner of Adventure Survival Shop in Scotts Valley, said she also has seen a surge in recent business driven by politics and mass attacks.

“With this whole Obama gun control thing, people are mentioning it when they come in,” Wagner said.

At odds with that trend is the fact that California’s background check laws already are up to the standard called for by Obama, according to Franklin Zimring, a UC Berkeley law professor with an extensive history working with firearms policy.

Scotts Valley is home to four of the five stores in Santa Cruz County that primarily deal in arms and ammunition, with Markley’s in Watsonville being the fifth.

Outdoor World’s Santa Cruz location sells rifles and shotguns only, while its Capitola branch also offers a selection of handguns. Big 5 Sporting Goods locations in Capitola and Watsonville, offering rifles and shotguns, are the county’s only other firearms retailers. A small number of individuals in the county also hold licenses to sell firearms, according to federal data.

The growing concentration of new gun stores in Scotts Valley in recent years drew the attention of the city officials. In September, the City Council passed a temporary moratorium on new firearms retailers along with a 10-month extension in October while it considers regulatory measures.

SURGE IN GUN SALES

December shattered records for federal background checks for gun sales nationally and statewide. Below are figures for the month of December from 2010 through 2015.

PERIOD CALIFORNIA NATIONWIDE

Dec. 2015 252,946 3,314,593

Dec. 2014 164,170 2,309,684

Dec. 2013 138,522 2,041,528

Dec. 2012 150,805 2,783,765

Dec. 2011 89,592 1,862,327

Dec. 2010 81,522 1,521,192

Source: Federal Bureau of Investigation National Instant Criminal Background Check System.

Reach the author at nibarra@santacruzsentinel.com or follow Nicholas on Twitter: @nickmibarra.

Click here for the original article on the Santa Cruz Sentinel.

SCOTTS VALLEY >> President Barack Obama had hardly closed his emotional Tuesday address outlining executive actions on gun control before Santa Cruz Armory was bustling.

“Literally five minutes after he finished talking, my store was packed,” said Nolan Sands, general manager of the Scotts Valley firearms retailer. “The direct relation as to when he talks and us getting busy is impeccable.”

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